Tag Archives: grief

Christmas Music For The Grieving

Christmas music took on a new meaning for me after Joe’s passing in March 2008. It was something to be avoided. It no longer brought back memories of singing carols in church or when youth group went Christmas caroling. Even recent memories of Christmas services became a blurred memory.

Christmas is a time to chipper and sing joyously at the top of your lungs. I was anything but chipper that year. Especially when it comes to the  “song-which-must-not-be-named.”

So this year I Googled Christmas music for the grieving and came upon Denny Burke’s wonderful article about Steven Curtis Chapman.   After reading the article, I went to my Amazon music account and listened to some of Steven’s Christmas albums in order screen which ones would be least likely to induce a meltdown.

Here are the three I spent listening to. They are from least likely to most likely to produce a meltdown of Wicked Witch of the West proportions. (Of course, it is entirely possible that any Christmas music will reduce a grieving person to a puddle of tears.)

Christmas Hymns (2015). As the title indicates, there is nothing romantic on this album. Now if you spouses favorite Christmas hymn is on this album, then you might shed a few tears.

The Music of Christmas (1995). There is nothing romantic that will induce a meltdown of Wicked Witch of the West proportions. However, Going Home For Christmas is about a mother’s move to heaven. Precious Promise is a beautiful, tender song about Mary and Jesus’ birth and could cause some tears just depending on your mood.

Joy (2012) Recommended only if you have been a widow for at least 5 years. But be forewarned there is a romantic song entitled Christmas Kiss, that might send you over the edge. The song is definitely not for the newly grieving spouse.

These are my opinions. Every person and every grief is different. Please review the list of songs before deciding whether or not to purchase as you need to make sure the songs will not cause you to have a meltdown.

I will keep looking for Christmas music by other artists that are appropriate for grieving people.

In the meantime, please avoid the “song-which-must-not-be-named” – Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas. 

 

(Disclosure: All links are non-affiliate.)

 

 

christmas signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

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This post is inspired by Holley Gerth’s Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely for which I was blessed to be a member of her book launch team.

In chapter 5 Holley talks about if she could go back to her elementary school, she would look into her younger self’s eyes and tell her

“You’re going to be okay. Actually, you’re going to be quite wonderful.”

That got me to thinking what would I tell my younger self if I could go back to elementary school.

Now you have to be very, very, very careful what you tell young children as they are very, very, very, impressionable. I know. I was very impressionable and had words said to me that should not be said to anyone of any age.

I am going to put a different twist on Holley’s idea and say what I would tell myself at the following turning points in life:

  • elementary school self
  • 18-year-old self the night before graduation
  • 22-year-old self the night before college graduation
  • the night before my wedding self
  • the returning to work self the first day back after Joe’s passing.

My Elementary School Self

What I would tell myself the night before I start first grade. This is the most difficult because I would not want to freak my young self out, but there is an important life-changing, life-shaping event that will happen in a year. I need to instill confidence in her and not destroy her self-esteem.

  • Never forget Jesus loves you.
  • Love everyone
  • Be Kind to everyone
  • Pray
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“Honky Tonk Woman”

Oh, and 1 + 1 = 2 not 11.

My 18-Year-Old Self 

The night before my high school graduation I would say:

  • Don’t give up the flute. Take lessons in college. Start a hobby career as a flute player for weddings, cocktail parties, and other social events. Keep track of your clients and stay in touch with them during the holiday season. This is called networking and you will be ahead of the rest of society if you develop good networking skills now.
  • Change Your Major. Instead of setting your sites on being a teacher, major in Library Science with a minor in creative writing. Make sure you do not lose your conversational writing tone.
  • Stop being a people pleaser. Instead, live to please God.

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My 22-Year-Old Self

The night before my college graduation I would tell myself:

  • Stay grounded in the Bible. It will always be your manual for living fully and loving bravely.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. You need to be grounded in gratitude as it will help you get through life.
  • Learn how to apply makeup and keep up with the trends. Teaching people how to apply makeup is a vital skill now and in the future. If you work in retail, push to get into the makeup department.

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The Night Before My Wedding Self

I would say:

Love, Live, Laugh, Dance, Hold Hands, Snuggle, Kiss A Lot

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You waited a long time for marriage – cherish it.

  • Keep doing small things for him. It’s the small things that matter, like making Tuna Casserole.
  • Live by Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I l Love Thee poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

My Newly Widowed Self

Here is what you need to do to thrive:

  • Write, write, and write. No one but you has to see what you write – not yet anyway. Hone your writing skills but keep the conversational tone.
  • Get some career counseling. Start and figure out what you would do if you were laid off.
  • Go back to school. I know the thought of term papers makes you want to puke but go back to school anyway.
  • Trust God. I know it is easier said and done, especially when times are tough but you have to do it.  He really IS your shepherd.
  • Keep praying and keep writing in a gratitude journal. This will help keep your mind focused on God and what is right in your life.
  • Get Back to photography, and reading. You enjoyed these hobbies before you got married, now get back to doing them again.
  • Eliminate the word “survive” and “okay” from your vocabulary. Focus on thriving instead. Surviving means treading water and okay means mediocre. You need to thrive and not survive.
  • But most of all:

BE KIND

Life is not going to get any easier. As a kid, you always knew life would be a struggle and your gut instinct was right. So no matter how hard life gets be kind to others as you are not walking in their shoes and don’t know what battle they are facing. Being kind will help keep your heart from hardening.

Remember no matter how hard the rest of your life will get:

Life is beautiful2

 

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s the advice I would give myself throughout different turning points in my life.

What advice would you give yourself?

 

Hands Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

All other photos by Michele Kearns

Widows: A Problem or A Calling?

 

My friend Ferree, from WidowsChristianPlace.com, posted One Widows Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem To Solve an article written by Lynda, one of Ferree’s Facebook friends.

The article tells the story about Lynda reading The Undistracted Widow, Living For God After Losing Your Husband by Carol W. Cornish. The book shed new light on being a widow – it is not a problem, but a calling. 

Wow! I understand that Joe’s timeline ended and mine did not, however I would have never used the word “calling” to describe being a widow. Calling is what happens to men and women who become pastors.

I was intrigued by the concept, and used my Amazon gift card from last Christmas to order the book. (Yes, it is mid-April and I still have an Amazon gift card from last Christmas.)

Appendix 2

Once it arrived I looked at the table of contents and was intrigued by Appendix 2 – The Local Church and Its Widows. Ms. Cornish nails the topic and opened my eyes to a different way of seeing churches (more on that later).

I’ve since started reading from the beginning and a full review of The Undistracted Widow will be published once I finish it.

A Nun Named Maria

Are you a nun named Maria?

Me neither.

Then we are not a problems to be solved.

For some reason we were called to be widows, called for such a time as this. Now how are we going to glorify God in this season of our lives?

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

(ESV)

 

 

 

Has It All Been In Vain? Questions After 9 Years of Widowhood

Was Joe’s passing all in vain?

Did people learn lesson’s from his passing?

Here today and gone tomorrow

What lessons if any have I learned?

I know marriages and family relationships are not perfect. Relationships are made up of humans, flawed imperfect humans. There will be bickering. but why do we resist spending time together?

Here today and gone tomorrow.

It was 9 years ago today Joe had a stroke at the base of the brain, it will be 9 years tomorrow that he was pronounced brain dead.

He was alive mentally and physically on the 27th. He was vibrant, full of life, love, laughter, joy. He frustrated me because I had to go get the other TV cart in the TV lounge in the rehab department. One TV cart is the same as the other –  right? No, not to Joe.

So full of life one evening and gone 11 hours later.

Knowing my heart aches for slow dances, hugs, cuddling while watching TV, or just aches in general. Is that not enough to get other couples of any age to appreciate one another?

Is my achy breaky heart not enough to get people in general to appreciate and love one another?

To take or make the time to spend together?

Here today and gone tomorrow.

When a spouse passes, your heart and soul ache in nooks and crannies you do  not know you have. The ache from grief can and will invade the same nooks and crannies when other family members move to heaven as well.

Questioning whether or not people learned lessons from Joe’s passing hurts and grieves me immensely. Fearing that there are people who did not learn lessons tears me up inside.

For your sake, love one another.

For your loved one’s sake, love one another.

Remember, here today and gone tomorrow.

Not them – you might be here today and gone tomorrow.

Leave no love unspoken or acted upon.

Don’t let yours or your loved one’s passing be in vain. Love one another – now.

 

 

How Are You?

(Author’s Note: I am late in getting this inaugural Wellness category post published but life, death, job search and a giraffe named April interrupted my plans. This week there will be posts about how I am doing in each area of my life. Hopefully my posts will encourage you to work on the areas of your life. Or after you find out about my life, maybe you will gain a new appreciation for your life. This series will end on March 29th.) 

Just Trying To Be Nice? 

One of life’s most over used and insincere greetings is

“How are you?”

People ask that question but really do not want to know the answer. All they want to hear is “fine.” They usually are asking the question just to be nice.

8 Key Areas Of Life

Keys

However, today we need to get serious about the question “How are you?”

How is your physical health? Physical health is one of the 8 key areas of life according to J.T. O’Donnell

Here is the full list:

  • Mental Self
  • Physical Self
  • Finances
  • Family, Friends & Children
  • Career
  • Hobbies/Recreation
  • Physical Environment/Surroundings
  • Romance/Significant Other

I put them in the order of importance for me as of today. The bottom six fluctuate but Mental and Physical self are always the top two.

Physical Self

Darren Rowse spoke about his physical self in episode #38 of his ProBlogger Podcast. He talks about changes he made and how they impacted his life and blog.

What he has to say applies to everyone and not to just us bloggers. I’ve made a change as a result (there are times my laptop sits on an empty milk crate, so I have to stand).

Must Do This

The condition of your physical self becomes more important after losing a spouse. You need to see your doctor as soon as possible so you have a starting point from which to improve or maintain depending upon your results. When making your appointment inform them your spouse passed away, odds are they will get you in quickly.

One Of The Best Uses Of Your Time

Aside from reading  your Bible and doing a daily devotion, the best use of your time today is to listen to Episode 38 of Problogger Podcast. 

Once  you are done ask yourself

 

“How Am I – Really?” 

 

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives by seizing new opportunities. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com because one blog is not enough

 

 

 

Is Valentine’s Day Cheesy?

 

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A lot of people either don’t or reluctantly celebrate Valentine’s Day because to them it is a cheesy made up Hallmark day. It’s just another excuse for companies to get their grubby hands on your hard earned money.

Do I think Valentine’s Day is cheesy? No.

 

Life get’s busy and while we should celebrate Valentine’s Day every day, we don’t. So once a year we get a reminder to express love to our family and friends. Cherish Valentine’s Day because next year, some of the people you love may not be here.

You will wish they were here even on a day you consider cheesy.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Love Always, 

thinbutterfly

 

 

 

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie – A Review

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One of my highlights in 2016 was being chosen for the launch team for Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears.  The book released today.

Kelly shares personal stories and actionable tips for over coming various fears-inducers including:

  • The Devil
  • Control
  • People Pleasing
  • Worrying
  • Comparison and Competition
  • Waiting While Trembling
  • Rejection and Opposition
  • The Past

which all happen to be fears widows deal with at some point in time.

Not a Rosy Story

It was the chapter on comparison and competition that sucker punched me.  Kelly writes about comparing herself to Rosie and the story was anything but rosy.

I too compare myself to others, wanting what they have so I can be like them and fit in. Whether it was fitting in with the in-crowd in school or fitting in with society after being widowed. Widows do not fit in with society, we are chewed up and spit out on the outside of the palace gates. We are the true deplorables. (but that is a subject for another post.)

Grief and Comparison

I found myself even doing it while grieving. Everyone else got back to normal or in some cases, their lives took off in unexpected and very pleasing circumstances. Me – I was grieving. The only moving I did was to the unemployment line a year after Joe’s passing.

There is no room for comparison while you are grieving. Do not compare yourself to another widow, she make look like she has it altogether but you do not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Once you do discover the details of another widow’s grief, you will most likely decide you are blessed to be experiencing the grief hand you were dealt.

Grief and Competition

Getting through grief is NOT a competition. There is no race to see who can come out of grief the soonest, who has the easiest grief, or who comes out of it looking the most beautiful.

There was not another woman who was widowed at the same time as me, so I did not compete with anyone to see who could finish grieving first or who looked better while grieving. (fyi – you are finished grieving when you walk through the gates of heaven. Revelation 21:4)

Behold His Radiance

In the chapter Kelly also writes:

What we see as our hindrance, God sees as admittance to behold His radiance.

pg 117

Grief is your hindrance, but you will see God in all his radiant glory through the help and support friends and family provide.

And once you see His radiance, it is up to you to emit God’s radiance to others. You do not do emit radiance by comparison and competition – you do that by serving others, even while you are grieving. 

Something To Chew On

Kelly closes each chapter with a section titled Something to Chew On. These are additional thoughts for you to meditate on. My favorite from the Comparison and Competition chapter is:

“Remind me of all the bad, and I will say, “The downpours are just precursors to rainbows.”

pg 121

Group Bible Study

Included in the book is a 12-week group Bible study, or you can do it alone. I am starting the Bible study this week. It will be a great way to kick off 2017.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always said grief is life’s greatest self-improvement course. Fear Fighting is an excellent book to read and  learn how to sucker-punch any fears that arise, whether or not you are grieving.

In Excellent Company

This book is in my stack of favorite books by author’s such as Ann Voskamp, J.T. O’Donnell, Mark Batterson, and Heather Burch. As  you can see it is also one where I used a lot of sticky notes. There are also a lot of highlights and notes in the margins.

book

Well done Kelly, well done good and faithful servant! 

Matthew 25:21

Disclaimer: I am part of the Fear Fighting book launch team and received a free copy in exchange for my honest review. The links provided are not affiliate links and I receive no compensation when  you buy  Kelly’s book.

(Special Thank You to the Brunswick Library and the Adult Reference staff for the use of their fireplace and resources. The library served as my office for the past 4 months.)

 

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